This July Packemin Productions bring the extremely popular production of HAIRSPRAY to the stage, starring Australian theatre legend Jon English in the iconic role of Edna Turnblad.

Gracing Australian radio, TV and stage for over 40 years, English is considered one of the country’s foremost entertainers as a multi-award winning singer, actor and composer with unparalleled success on the stage and screen. English has starred in musicals, drama and comedy, released 15 albums, written musicals and scores for film and television, toured internationally with his band, and won ARIA and Logie Awards including Best Vocalist and Best Actor.

“It’s a perfect match!” enthuses Director Neil Gooding. “Jon is such a beloved performer and people have strong memories of roles he has played such as The Pirate King and Judas, not to mention his comedic skill in All Together Now, so we’re absolutely thrilled to have Jon on board, bringing his experience and talent to the show. With him playing the hilarious Edna Turnblad, this production is shaping up to be our best yet!”

"It's such a hoot!" laughs English. "I'm a huge fan of the 60s as that was the era I first started discovering music. The Beatles in 1963; changed my life! This show has such catchy music too which means it's a lot of fun to watch and the same goes for being in it.”

With stage highlights including Judas in the original Australian production of Jesus Christ Superstar and his landmark performance as Pirate King in the Pirates of Penzance, English is sure to be memorable in this colourful production.

“Although this is my first time doing Hairspray, it's not my first time in drag. It's a tough challenge for guys, but I got my balance in heels as Carmen Miranda in the Dad's Army musical, so it's all coming back to me for the role of Edna. I've known (Producer and Director) Neil for a long time, which makes it great to work on this together and the kids in the cast are insanely talented. It's going to be fantastic!"

Over the past few years Packemin Productions has built a reputation for its self as one of Sydneys best Pro-Am Musical Theatre companies, bringing some of the most popular musicals to Riverside Theatre, Parramatta in grand style.  Packemin has produced Joseph and the Technicolor DreamcoatOliver!, and their sell-out season of The Wizard of Oz which wowed audiences with casts of over 200 performers, huge sets and highly skilled creative and technical teams.

HAIRSPRAY also sees Helpmann Award nominated performer Wayne Scott Kermond (Singin’ in the Rain, Hot Shoe Shuffle) return to Packemin in the role of Wilbur Turnblad following his starring role as Fagin in Oliver!, Cle Morgan (Hairspray, Australian Idol) reprises her performance as Motormouth Maybelle from the recent national tour of Hairspray, and are thrilled to introduce talented newcomer, 16 year old Jesscia Rookeward as the loveable Tracy Turnblad.

“I honestly didn’t think I’d get as far as I did with the audition for Tracy as everyone else going for the role was older and had more experience. I was happily surprised when I kept progressing through the stages and then I was ecstatic when I found out I had the role.” says Rookeward.

“The rehearsals for Hairspray are pretty intense but I’ve loved every minute. Jon (English) has been so kind helping me with the acting and I’m learning heaps. Hopefully this will help kick start my musical theatre career, so we’ll see where things lead me. Broadway is my dream and as my character Tracy says, ‘You've got to think big, to be big!’”


(From Left to Right:  Peter Watson as Mr Pinky, Atunaisa Lasalosi as Seaweed,
Michele Lansdown as Velma Von Tussle, Mikayla Rose Williams as Penny,
Jessica Rookeward as Tracy Turnblad, Ayanda Dladla as Little Inez ,
Jon English as Edna Turnblad, Alyssa Wilkins as Amber Von Tussle,
Christopher Glynn as Link, Wayne Scott Kermond as Wilbur Turnblad,
and Kyle Sapsford as Corny Collins)

HAIRSPRAY is set in the 60s and features Baltimore teen Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart, trying to follow her dream of being a dancer on TV. Along the way she becomes a fashion trendsetter, wins the affections of teen heartthrob Link Larkin and becomes an advocate for race equality – all without denting her ‘do’!

July 26 – August 10
Tickets from $30

On sale now through Riverside Theatres